Saturday, December 7, 2013

Brewing of a Belgian Quad

Last week I decided to brew one of many beer ideas that I have for a homebrew. This list is compiling and I felt like it was time to test of these out. Since I started working for Saugatuck Brewing Company, I have only brewed two other times as a homebrew, one was a beer that I have done before, slightly modified and secondaried with an added ingrediant (Chocolate Mole Stout secondaried with Poblano Peppers...I will do a review of my thoughts of this beer...mental note). The second beer that I have done in this time is a partigyle style beer from the runnings of a bigger beer done at the brewery (though, the second runnings still came out to be 17°P and the O.G. was 23°P).

This current beer is of a style that I have never attempted before, a Belgian Quad. There is no BJCP style outline for this beer, though there are for a Belgian Dubble and Tripel. In my Beersmith, I entered it as a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. The grain and hop bill is as follows:

15# Belgian Pilsner Malt
2# Munich Malt (Germany)
1/2# Caravienna Malt (Belgium)
1/4# Biscuit Malt (Belgium)
2# Turbinado Sugar (add a pound at a time after 24 and 48 hours of fermentation respectively)
2 oz. Styrian Golding (Celeia from Slovenia, 3.2% AA at 60 min)
1 oz. Fuggle (UK, 4.5% AA at 10 min.)
1 oz. Fuggle (UK, 4.5%AA at Flame Out)

Four days prior to brew day, I ventured to Brewer's Edge Homebrew Shop in Holland, Michigan to pick up a vial of yeast. I knew that since that this was a big beer, that I didn't want to stress my yeast out too much and I needed a big starter. I talked to Tim aboot my options. I was thinking of WLP550 a Belgian Ale yeast from White Labs because of the Phenolic characteristics, though not as fruity and medium to high alcohol tolerance. Tim and I talked a little and I decided to go with his choice of WLP530, a Abby Ale yeast because of more fruitier and earthy characteristics.

Once home I made a 1-L starter for the yeast by boiling 4 oz. of dry malt extract (DME) in 1 L of water for 15 min. I then super cooled it in the sink to room temperature (through feeling the bottom the flask) and added the vial of yeast to it. A rubber stopper was then put on the flask with a airlock. I put it in a closet to build up yeast cells until brew day.

This past Sunday, 30 Nov., was brew day. Since I live in an apartment complex in Holland, MI., I have no access to water outside, where I brew at. I got permission from the CEO of Saugatuck Brewing Company to be able to brew in the production area, with my equipment. That morning, around 11:00, I loaded my car with all of the equipment that I required to brew, as well as a supply of beer. Even though I work at the brewery and I am able to get beer inexpensively, but I have an ample supply of homebrew that I should drink.

Once at the brewery, and everything was unloaded, I began heating up water to boil for storage in my hot liquor tank and mill my grain. I used some of the boiled water to preheat my mashtun, while the rest went into the hot liquor tank. Water was then heated to strike temperature of 160°F. After draining the preheating water from the mashtun, I added 22 quarts of strike water to the mashtun. To this I sifted and stirred in my grains. The temperature of my mash was a little low. To raise the temperature of my mash, I added some of the water that I put into my hot liquor tank to the mash to get it up to mash temperature of 148°F. I held it at mashing temperature for 75 minutes.

Once mashing was completed, 14 quarts of 203°F water was stirred into the mash to raise the temperature to 168°F, which was held for 10 more minutes. After 10 minutes, the wort was drained into a pitcher and recirculated back into the mash by pouring it over a spoon, so not to disturbed the grain bed. This process is called a “vorlauf.”

Once the wort came out clear, with no sediment, it was drained directly into the kettle. After a volume of 7 gallons was reached, a gravity was taken. A pre-boil gravity of 16°P (1.066 SG) was exactly what I was shooting for. The kettle was then heated to a boil. After the boil began, a first hop addition of 2 oz. of Stryian Golding, was done. With 15 minutes left, a teaspoon of Irish Moss was added to the boil as a clearing agent. Eighty minutes later the second hop addition of 1 oz. of Fuggle was done along with a teaspoon of yeast nutirent. During that last ten minutes the wort chiller was set up and sanitation of equipment to transfer the wort to the fermenter was done. At the end of the boil, a final hop addition of 1 oz. of Fuggle hop was done.

After the boil was commenced, the wort chiller was immersed into the wort to rapidly cool the wort. During the cooling process, a sample of the wort was taken and a gravity reading of 19.8°P (1.083 SG) was recorded. This reading was 2°P lower than what was expected. Once the wort was cooled to a temperature of 70°F, it was transferred through a auto siphon to a sanitized fermentation bucket, capped and an airlock was added to the bucket.

Back at my apartment, once fermentation started, the next day a pound of Turbinado sugar was dissolved and boiled for 15 minutes in 2 cups of water. The pan with the solution was cooled in a sink of cold water, then added to the fermentation bucket. This process was done again the next day. I figured the O.G. to be 23.5°P (1.101 SG) after the addition of the sugar.

After 3 more day, I went to check on the fermenter, and the air lock was full of krausen and the lid of the bucket was ajar from the bucket. The fermentation was so strong that it blew the lid right off of the bucket! Hopefully that there was so mush CO2 in a layer on top of the beer that it won't become infected.

I will leave it in the bucket, on top of the yeast cake, for some time before transferring it to a secondary bucket. The reason behind this is two fold; (i) I want to reuse this yeast for another beer in which, once the beer is transfered, I will add the second beer on top of the yeast cake, and (ii) I want to allow this beer to mellow out and any of the fusel alcohol hotness of the beer will subside. The idea for the second beer from this yeast is a Belgian Table Beer that will be around 4.5% ABV and will be simply 2 malts and 2 hops. I am currently working on this recipe and it is almost complete. I'll write another article on the tasting notes once I bottle it and give it plenty of time to bottle condition.

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